Happy homes, Happy hearts, Happy communities

Posted in: Viewpoints

Happy homes: happy hearts: happy communities

By Lyndsey Simpson, Lancashire

Life is fast-paced, pressured and hard for all members of the family unit, young and old. Two incomes are often required to make ends meet, meaning children need to be in registered childcare for ever-extended hours.

Parents receive belligerent letters if children are off school too much for sickness, and are constantly told their children must be in school from an ever-younger age – perhaps because, as a culture, we are afraid of falling behind on an international scale- or perhaps because the government thinks paid professionals can do a better job with our kids than we can?

This can all add up to a rather stressful household with less time spent together as a family. Less time to emotionally support each other and nip problems in the bud…Less time for happiness and fun.

Are the only options in our hectic culture to “sink or swim”? What if it’s the children who are crushed and exhausted by the pace of life? How can parents find extra time to help them? Is there scope to create a more caring, nurturing society?

A happy home is a good place to start. Happy homes lead to happy children, happy parents and a happy wider community. To have a home where you feel safe, where the ‘dog-eat-dog’ rules of the outside world don’t apply and where you are loved unconditionally is of immeasurable value.

The role of the home-maker

Who has the capacity to create a happy home? When the washing-machine blows up and the laundry pile starts to take over half of the house, what then? When everyone arrives home ready for a hearty meal, who has the time to create it? When the elderly neighbour needs a lift to the hospital, what then? When the school needs help with a trip or a classroom volunteer, what then? Who is going to pick up the slack?

Well, it seems no-one, that’s who.

In the current political climate, only families in which all the adults are salaried and therefore busy outside the home, receive support. The result is most of us are pushed into paid employment whether we wish to be or not. The concept of the hard-working family is not extended to those working in an unpaid capacity performing all the jobs described above. These people are viewed as “having it easy”.

The home can become a neglected place. Meal preparation is hurried. Broken appliances do not get sorted out quickly. Elderly neighbours do not get any help. We all arrive home exhausted, ready for some “me-time”, resentful of any demands made over our evenings, impatient with the children.

Is this hectic lifestyle really what we want to pass onto our children? For many parents the desire to step away from paid employment to instead work hard at running a household feels like a bad choice. It’s seen by politicians to be worthless.

Domestic work is sadly not viewed as having economic value. Baking is not thought to be a practical means to create a tasty meal for your family, but more akin to a trendy hobby emulating popular programmes on television with the focus on competition and individual skill.

In my experience, it is Mum who instinctively keeps on top of domestic jobs.  She works hard to develop healthy eating habits in children and shares their daily worries.  She is particularly adept at building community links and helping neighbours out. It is Mum who is there to be a counsellor and to provide help for growing children and a busy husband, in tune with their ever-changing needs.

This is teamwork: and being equal to someone in worth and personal value cannot mean being the same as them in role and function. This is the case throughout society: greater monetary contributions do not (and should not) signify greater importance. Who can say that a City lawyer is more important than a plumber, just because one is paid more than the other? Who do you value most when you have a burst pipe on a Sunday afternoon! Similarly, both unpaid and paid employment is of equal value, regardless of how it’s divided out in a happy home. At least, don’t tell my children that Dad is more important because he earns the money. They wouldn’t believe you.

The priority of making a happy home for the next generation is often overlooked by policy makers in the debate on parental choice. It can be a fulfilling, satisfying experience for parents knowing that they have provided the best possible environment for happy children, who have the best chance of growing up to be caring and responsible adults.

Happy homes make happy people and communities: and in turn a happy, prosperous and productive country. Please take note policy-makers!

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